Carpenter scheduled to face live hitters later this week

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Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter continues to make a mostly smooth recovery from the left hamstring strain that he suffered last week.

According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, Carp is scheduled to face live hitters in a batting practice session Friday and could be cleared to resume appearing in Grapefruit League games if everything goes well.

Carpenter gave the Cardinals a little scare when he felt a twinge in the hamstring this past weekend, but he threw an aggressive bullpen session Tuesday and reported no problems during or after.

St. Louis is praying for another ace-like season out of the veteran right-hander, especially in the wake of Adam Wainwright’s recent Tommy John surgery. Carpenter posted a fantastic 3.22 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over 235 innings last year, racking up 179 strikeouts against only 63 walks. He nearly won the National League Cy Young Award in 2009.

Jung Ho Kang granted work visa to re-enter the U.S.

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Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that third baseman Jung Ho Kang has been granted a work visa and will soon rejoin the Pirates. Kang had previously not been allowed to enter the U.S. after he was arrested for his third DUI in Seoul in December 2016.

There was some thought that Kang wouldn’t ever play for the Pirates again, but things have worked out in his favor. It will still likely be a while until he actually appears in a major league game, as he will need to get back into game shape and up to game speed.

Pirates president Frank Coonelly said, “After a lengthy process, we are pleased that Jung Ho has been allowed to re-enter the United States. We are encouraged by the steps that Jung Ho has taken to date and are hopeful that having the games he loves taken away from him for more than a year has driven home the reality that he must make better life decisions as we move forward together.

As we have communicated to him throughout this process, we will work to provide Jung Ho with the resources and support necessary for him to meet the high expectations that we have for him as a member of our organization and our community.”

The Pirates signed Kang as an international free agent out of South Korea to a four-year, $11 million contract in January 2015. If he were to appear in the majors this season, he would earn a prorated $3 million. He has a club option for next season worth $5.5 million with a $250,000 buyout.